What It’s Like to Play is a column that describes how videogames are played, to an audience that doesn’t necessarily play a lot of such games. It is inspired by the series of the same name that ran on CultureRamp in late 2012, and its basic premise is explained by L. Rhodes here. The name is used with permission.
As an adult, how does one learn to play electronic games? With no older sibling or friend down the block to teach, no community of mates to check in with, no memory of games from childhood, how does one begin, how does one progress? The universal advice is, “Just play.” Or “Find a game you love and play till you’re adept.” A welcoming thought — however, for me, it’s not been that easy, and I think the reasons might be interesting.
In my late fifties, my personal and professional life both confronted me with how very much I didn’t know about electronic games, aesthetically and otherwise. So I set out to explore, and set the arbitrary goal of getting to know fifty games (and a wide range of them). I am still at the beginning: in three months that began with casual and occasional play, I’ve introduced myself to some twenty-nine games, so far finishing or getting seriously into about ten.
I can hurry past two initial demands on a new player: my new boyfriend, an expert and thoughtful gamesman (yes, he’s younger than me), has spared me initial expense by sharing his Steam account and hooking me up with Blizzard, loaning me a trackball mouse, and doing basic recommendations and coaching. As for the second task, finding people to play with — no such luck. None of my friends play, and the dreaded Beginner Shame blocks me for now from playing with either my few advanced game-player acquaintances or with online strangers. “Games,” for me, for now, more or less means solo-player PC games.
So far, everything I know I owe to alternative games — independent, eccentric, arty, small, non-competitive, lower-stress games: Monument Valley, with the charm of its unflappable heroine’s tiny, methodical steps as she traipses through gravity-defying Escher structures; the restrained, meta-gaming wit of Cameron Kunzelman’s Catachresis and Epanelepsis; the simple but snide world of Loved; Two Queers in Love at the End of the World. Of course, for a bookish chap like me, interactive fiction has been the most involving form, so thanks go to Kentucky Route Zero, Gone Home, and The Walking Dead. And — make no mistake — this is an awe-inspiring way to enter gaming. But my project requires me to go further — across a great divide, mainstream games are staring at me, expectantly.
So now let’s talk about my one and only, tiny, area of expertise, my special POV: learning to play electronic games without the benefit of any prior experience. So far, two major observations: first, as natural as game-playing comes to feel for the veteran player, none of this is simply “natural” — or, at least, human nature, whatever that may be, has to adjust to these amusements: there is more habituation and shaping of desire here, more re-arranging of affect and excitement and, indeed, of values, by the very act of playing, than anyone accustomed to video games may realize. And, secondly, playing a game is a different experience if you’re inexperienced. And thus, when you’re just starting out, there are real, and revealing, hurdles to “just playing,” to sharing what a more knowing player feels.
The first hurdle, and it’s huge, is unfamiliarity with gameplay itself — and with the very process of learning a game.
Start with the controls. For me, not being good with controls almost derails the whole experiment. It means lots of not succeeding; more, it means hesitating at the threshold of the deeper, more involving experience of the game. This is true even with apparently simple games: I would have more fully enjoyed Gone Home — its story, its mood and characterization and sweet queer love story — if it hadn’t been the first time I ever moved a character’s POV with WASD keys and a mouse. I also had things to learn about the puzzle logic of traditional adventure games. Struggling with these, I was too preoccupied by the gameplay to get involved in the game.
More complicated games, like MOBAs, exponentially increase the obstacle, adding time-urgency in battle and the demands of multiple focuses of attention in a screen flooding with visual information; for the first while, naïve players like me will play without much control or even much sense of what’s going on. It leaves me preoccupied by my own incompetence.
Plus I find that I — more a deductive than an inductive thinker — do not easily learn from the trial-and-error method of just jumping into a game to see how I do. Once lost, I might stay lost. “Just try it, you’ll figure it out” must work better for other people.
The second hurdle is the challenge of, yes, getting involved in the game, but only in the right way. The fact is that one who enters the world of gameplay is asked to master a strange dance of simultaneous attachment and detachment: stay unmoved if you are lost, if you fail repeatedly, even if you fictionally die in the attempt — but, contrarily, if you level up, survive, or win, celebrate! I’m told to be emotionally open to the music, art and animation, to the suspense, the whimsical possibilities of character creation, the fantasy, the story — to just get into the game — but in that very state of openness and susceptibility, I’m somehow not to be dismayed by the gloomy, even dystopian, situations of so many games, the violence, the insistence that I kill strangers, or even the fundamental helplessness of trial and error (and error, and error), as these, after all, are just the givens of play and not to be felt or thought much about. To experienced players, to problematize this is preposterous: “What’s wrong?” they ask. “You can’t enjoy the game if you keep getting upset about the wrong things or don’t enjoy the right ones!” Just so. But knowing the difference is not automatic — it has to be learned.
The third, and, to me, the most resonant, challenge is the fact that, for a new player, each game stands by itself. Michael Lutz wrote acutely in First Person Scholar (emphasis added):
I would contend that in the context of videogames, each performance is doubly haunted: first by our memories of other games and expectations of new ones, and then by our experiences of playing the game itself.
If that’s so, then some part of the fun an experienced player enjoys is not inherent to any particular game: the exhilaration my boyfriend feels as he plays is not inspired only by the game at hand, or even because he knows it as one of a type or sequence of games, but, because he already loves games, always-already validating each particular one within a larger, familiar delight. Lacking that context, a new game for me can be a shallower experience, even a strange shot in the dark that I’m not sure I’m getting the point of. A good relationship with any game can depend on knowing things beyond it.
So, hopefully, with more play-time logged in, more getting the whole process under my skin, and (fingers crossed) some more success, my ease, my confidence, and, thus, my engagement and delight will increase. But John Vinson, in an Examiner.com article, “How to Play First-Person Shooters”, gives the hard word:
The world of video games requires a lot of experience … FPS games in particular have a nuance which requires tons of practice in order to even be decent at them. … No one said it was going to be easy. … When you first pick up a game, whether it’s FPS or not, you’re going to be pretty awful at it. Don’t get discouraged. No one truly becomes adequate at playing a game until they can put the time in necessary. It’s easier said than done when you keep dying on the same stage over and over again. … The key is to simply look at it as an obstacle which needs to be conquered.
For a new player, the obstacle that needs to be conquered is being a new player. As such, and for all these reasons, I — fiercely determined to get somewhere in this exploration — am not yet getting to the fun, at least not the fun an experienced player knows. Curiosity (and sometimes teeth-grinding stubbornness) has to motivate me instead. And that works.
There are certainly positive moments, gifts along the way — the dive bar’s ceiling mysteriously opening up to the sky during the torch song in Kentucky Route Zero, a moment of victory when, after eight rapid deaths in The Walking Dead I figure out how to survive a particularly tenacious zombie by sneaking away behind a moving car, a short sequence of challenges in Portal 2 that proves surprisingly doable. I’m getting a little more patient, a little more acclimated — maybe even a little more amused. I’ve grown accustomed to giving games some time, and recognizing that the startup period of learning a game is never going to be the part I personally enjoy. And lately I’ve seen that the days when I am most bitterly frustrated, “hate-playing” and complaining to any poor soul who will listen — those days are usually followed by next-day breakthroughs.
A few mornings ago I find myself playing through the tutorial of Diablo III with my boyfriend, who offers tactful coaching and explanation (N.B.: the most important words you can say to a new player? “You don’t have to understand that part yet.” Instant relief.) As a team game, it’s a big change for me. And, to my surprise, I like it; for three hours of mediocre playing (my longest play session at a single game so far), I like it well enough — simple gameplay, a hope of survival, a break from puzzle-solving, pleasing visuals, a changing landscape, another player in the room … My son texts me, “I’d comment that it’s odd that such a smart guy likes such a dumb game, but I like Diablo a lot, too.”
I write as an outsider, but one interested in and sympathetic to games. What, then, might this outsider account offer to insiders?
First, an appeal: I really think this could be easier. Can’t someone create a graduated list of games for adult-onset players, a series of games to take on, in sequence, that would build familiarity and component skills and even attitudes, in a conscious way? Most players I know have only the blurriest memories of how one learns this stuff, little sense of the parts that make up the whole: sorting it out might be an interesting project.
Second, a reflection. I’d hazard a surmise for inveterate players: if playing these games feels natural, it’s an acquired nature — because habituation to play actually changes you. In particular, you become desensitized to some elements of the game fictions and highly sensitive to others, including the rewards and energetic stimulations of play. You become crafty at the kinds of problems games put forward; it comes to affect your rhythms, your imagination, your way of processing things. (Don’t get me started on what it’s like to drive in traffic with a committed MOBA player!)
Most importantly, in a larger sense, I believe that games alter your sense of fun, including, centrally, the very value you place on fun, the amount of time, money, effort you are willing to invest in its pursuit. In short, alien visitor that I am, I have to accept that for you this fun is authentic and valuable. In fact — here’s my professorial training — I believe that the value you place on fun actually constitutes an on-the-ground riposte to a lot of critical/cultural pessimism (I refer especially to mid-twentieth-century Marxists, like Lyotard and Baudrillard, both very influential on me, who saw all pop-culture habituations through narrowed, suspicious eyes). A thoughtful, critical reevaluation of play, of fun, could upset a lot of orthodoxies. That’s part of the promise of games.
I’m a pretty experienced games-player, and i must say i really enjoyed this. Partly because of the perspective being brought to light. Not many people who decide to get into games at a later age decide to also describe the experience. The other part is the optimisim and open-eyed attitude you come into it with. Were it to me, this article would be recommended reading for any up-and-coming game designer, because there are some real nuggets in here. Kudos!
Thank you! Hopefully I’ll have more to say on this at a future date–maybe a tale of glorious successes, who knows? I appreciate your response.
Look for an expanded version of this article, coming soon to my Tumblr blog, Stranger Here Myself.
I also enjoyed this article. Thanks for taking the time to write it!
Okay here’s what I think is a good, and accessible, list of games to play for a new comer. It should teach the player what to expect of games and their idiosyncrasies. Video games can be incredibly quirky and experienced players sometimes don’t realize it. Small things that are taken for granted, like how red barrels are explosives and doors open both ways.
It requires a mobile and a PC, but also better with a PS3. A lot of games can be emulated so you wouldn’t need older, harder to find consoles. Every game in the list is chosen for what it can teach and/or for being really great.
Start out with Tetris, to understand the very concept of a video game, get good at using a controller and teach the joy of learning the game.
Move on to Crayon Physics, to become familiar with physics and puzzles in video games
Super Mario Bros., it’s created the basic language of platformers and video games in general. It’s the first game in the list with a narrative, in terms of both story and gameplay. It has enemies, ugprades, its own crazy logic. This is important to learn, each game has its own insane internal logic.
Limbo would be a nice complement after SMB, also to introduce the player to physics, but it can be skipped. It’s a nice game though, to show what to expect of games thematically and aesthetically if played after SMB. To show how the same concept can be worked in completely different ways.
Now it’s time to move on to 3D games, starting with Journey. Gives you a sense of how to control a character in a 3D environment, manipulate the camera, and shows you that games aren’t necessarily about the challenge, but also about the world and the exploration.
Katamari Damacy, you were introduced to 3D environments, now a game with a lot of physics in a 3D environment, that demands speed, agility and concentration, but at the same time has incredibly intuitive controls.
Gone Home, to get used to first person controls in a safe environment, get used to a game where puzzles and narrative mend together and you’re expected to keep track of simultaneous narratives at the same time in order to advance.
Portal, the game that should put to practice absolutely everything that the previous games have taught. It’s the graduation game.
I think this should build a solid basis for most games, though the player would still be unprepared for RPGs and strategy games as well as competitive games, fighting games, racing games. I guess maybe The Sims could enter the list at some point.Or SimCity. But yeah, I think a nice way to get started.
A calculated curriculum, complete with some familiar titles. I appreciate this very much. Hopefully, I’ll find another chance to report in on what I discover. Thank you.
Interesting experiment! I’ve been an avid video-game-player for years, but never thought about venturing so far outside my comfort zone as to seriously try to enjoy the *whole* spectrum of play types and genres. If a type of game (FPS, I’m looking at you here) frustrates me enough that I want to throw the hardware out the window within fifteen minutes, I simply conclude that it isn’t for me. But there you are gamely trying to master the foreign languages of controls, perspective, movement, tropes and more. This site is going to be fun to read.
…You’re likely up to your ears already in game recommendations, but I can’t resist suggesting a few more that might be new territory and that I think you’d enjoy interacting with:
- Visual novels, particularly the unusual Analogue: A Hate Story
- Persona 4 and Persona 3 Portable, for the (afaik) unique ‘Social Link’ mechanic, and the time management
- Okami, of course. Combat calligraphy!
- Text-based interactive fiction: Anchorhead and Slouching Towards Bedlam might be right up your alley as a bookish chap.
- City-builder simulations: I’m enjoying the heck out of Banished, particularly with the free Colonial Charter mod.
I appreciate all recommendations! What’s fun about the recent ones is that there’s no overlap. Games are an extraordinarily rich field. Thanks so much. (And, certainly, I am not always convinced that my approach of hanging ion on games I’m ill-suited to is the best strategy.) Look for a longer version of this article on my Tublr blog, Stranger Here Myself.
This was a wonderful read, very much lets me in on the struggle that’s so off-putting to my parents which seemed so unquestioned and natural to myself. I’m particularly interested by your mention of how games alter our valuation of fun. Having grown up with video games, I’ve always viewed fun as my reward for work, so it is heavily valued in its many forms. The idea that it’s not so important is actually a bit curious to me, once stability and progress are handled in ones’ life I’d expect fun to be the next priority? I’d be quite interested to read your take on the value of fun as you see it, or your “critical reevaluation of play.”
Thanks for your time!
Thanks for this response. I could be wrong, of course, but I actually think this is generational–hence my argument that the difference may be electronic-game-created; my parents never played games aside from a half-reluctant bi-monthly round of bridge with friends (there’s an athletic side to this story, too, but an unhappy one), and–largely for particular family reasons–formal gameplay has been rare in my life, too–and in fact I believe that few of my agemates, in and out of my family, play games of any kind. Perhaps your family and friends’ experiences are different? I will certainly be writing more on this. Thanks for your reflection. By the way, I will be posting an expanded version of this article on my Tumblr blog, Stranger Here Myself.
My family were always fanatical card and board game players; back in the early days of home computers, I played bridge for my college. We liked nothing better than a nice long afternoon’s game of Risk. This love of games and science fiction probably predisposed me to liking video games when I finally made their acquaintance properly.
This is where the limits of writing from a personal perspective come in; I certainly see your point–you had a natural path into electronic games. As for me, what can I say? Different story. Without those habits to fall back on, I’m learning from square one. (The question is, are there games that foster the habits of playing games, or do they all just presume them?)
Thanks for this very interesting perspective. One thought: perhaps a lot of the culture of many major games (especially first-person shooters) can be traced right back to the vocabulary of action movies. In particular, the idea of “killing strangers” as a noble or necessary task of the hero is in almost any action franchise you can name — Bond, Bourne, Indiana Jones, Star Wars … And certainly that celebration of a man who can slaughter countless people (and happens to be on our side) has been an entertainment staple of ancient Greece (Homer) and old England (Beowulf). Someone who’s already a fan of action movies might be able to shift into an FPS less squeamishly than someone who doesn’t go out of their way for a Michael Bay film.
You’re exactly right, of course–and, sadly, action films are not my metier. (My son, a professional stuntman and fight choreographer, knows it, to his chagrin and mine.) I’m a holdover from the antiwar days of long ago, and a peacenik down to my toes; so I have not just an unfamiliarity but even an instinctive antipathy to this very important source of game ideas. Interestingly, a number of people tell me that they simply never think about it when they play.
You may have had the Marxists — we had Kojima, Carmack, Newell and Sakaguchi — and that Miyamoto fellow. Thanks for the read.
Ah, but did they persuade you?? (Chuckle.) Thanks for your response.
Several months late, but yes! And millions more exactly like myself! They were/are visionaries in every sense of the word.
a game suggestion, if i may: given that you’re bookish, you might enjoy the dig [by lucasarts] and also loom by them, too. those are both pretty slow-paced games [there’s no frantic-ness in either game. just you versus that particular world.]
you might get a lot out of — in particular — the dig, given it’s themes and you might like the musical backdrop of loom.
one piece of advice, though: these are adventure games and, as such, sometimes, the logic can be a little obtuse — i would certainly take a pen and paper [for loom — you’re going to want to write drafts down when you find them] and a walkthrough for both, in case you get stuck.
but i think both are absolutely worth your time.
I really appreciate the recommendations. Thank you. Hopefully I’ll have more good things to report in time.
This was a great read.
I don’t agree with having to emotionally engage in a game in “the right way” though. As a seasoned gamer I still play FPS games on “Easy” simply because I don’t enjoy dying repeatedly. And while I can get used to it, I don’t really enjoy killing strangers for no reason. One of the criticisms leveraged against Tomb Raider in episode five of Fail Forward got was precisely about that: The gleeful mass murderer the game makes of you really grates against the narrative portrayal of the player character as conscientious.
But everybody has different reactions to the elements of a game. For example, while you may become frustrated at getting lost in games, I relish it. It often takes only one thing to ruin your fun or break your immersion, and that’s also why you’ll so often see polarized opinions on games. Learning how you can make games more enjoyable for yourself is indeed wisdom one must accrue.
I appreciate this very much. Finding my own way to my own version of enjoyment through even mainstream games is, indeed, the question. By the way, if you’re interested, I’ll soon be posting an expanded version of this article on my Tiumblr blog, Stranger Here Myself.
Emily Short is one of the most interesting people in ‘interactive fiction’, Counterfeit Monkey is a masterpiece.
Thanks so much for the recommendation.
*Unless specified, any game mentioned below is available on PC, and almost all through Steam.*
If I had to recommend one game to someone in your shoes, it’d be Kerbal Space Program. While it has time-sensitive moments, it doesn’t demand reflexes. Rather, it rewards experimentation, forethought, and creativity, and accidentally teaches some real-life knowledge along the way. Whether you go into it treating the bits it gives you like rocket fuel-filled legos, or attempt to meticulously follow the path of real life space programs, there is something for you. The sense of accomplishment when one docks for the first time is a very joyful feeling. And then, the mods… Well, if we get into them, there won’t be any space left for other games!
Have you tried strategy games? They are primarily divided into two categories, real-time and turn-based. Both almost always have a campaign that sometimes doubles as a tutorial (introducing the game systems in small, measured doses to help people learn) and are mostly built with single-player in mind. Turn-based are almost always either grand strategy, like Civilization (or Beyond Earth, though I’d recommend Civilization more to a beginner), or tactical, like XCOM or Valkyria Chronicles (XCOM is the more polished, VC has the cuter art style and more personable story.) Real time are mostly scaled to single battles, and run the gamut from Starcraft (Popular for a good reason, but requires micromanagment) to the spiritual progeny of Total Annihilation: Supreme Commander (Modern, excellently executed take on the subgenre. Look for Forged Alliance.), Ashes of the Singularity (Brand new example showing off new graphics tech, apparently less good in other areas.), and Spring (FOSS clone of the original), to more simulator‑y series like Wargame (Steep learning curve for RTS veterans, but probably not much worse for you. I like a lot of its systems, but am undecided on the whole.) to more niche games like Warzone 2100 (Now FOSS, I’d recommend trying.) or Homeworld (Movement is 3d. Recently remastered.)
Portal and Portal 2 are (as far as I’m aware) the best introduction to first-person / WASD-controlled gaming. No time pressure (except for snarky comments, but those just add to the story!), but, control-wise, exactly the same as things ranging from Mass Effect (a series widely praised for its story and one I very much recommend.) to Borderlands (A very funny series, also recommended.) to Call of Duty / Battlefield (Two series dueling for the largest market share amongst FPS players, best known for their spectacle.) to Arma / DayZ (An exacting simulator with extremely precise stance control. DayZ uses that for a grand melee with zombies. If you’re going for breadth, definitely check out Arma, or at least its community.) to Quake (Here everyone goes ZOOM! I’d recommend checking out the similar game Sauerbraten, which is FOSS.) to TES/Fallout (Serious time sinks, but well worth it if you can invest it.) to Saints Row (Very silly series that does not take itself seriously. I’d recommend checking out 3 first.) to Titanfall (Very well done mashup of a few different genres, has giant stompy robots.)
What a generous response! That’s a whole curriculum–lots for me to try. (In partial answer to one of your questions, strategy games seem to involve a mindset that isn’t first- or second-nature to me. Still, I must keep at it, and you’ve given me many options.) Thanks so much! Hopefully I’ll be able to make another report in time. Look for an expanded version of this article coming soon to my Tumblr blog, Stranger Here Myself.
May I suggest any entry in the Kirby series? They’re a more gentle introduction to platform games than the Super Mario games, which tend to get unforgiving in later levels.
Thank you! (Super Mario undoes me even at the easier levels–as I mentioned, one of the most negative experiences I had in this whole experiment was trying to play Mario Kart with no preparation at all; the merciless speed and my lack of control savvy made for an instant anxiety attack. Paper Mario was kinder.) I think I’ve fooled around with Kirby a bit. I’ll try more at your recommendation. Thanks!
Ugh, Mario Kart… Those games get devilishly hard in a hurry. Battle mode with friends can be a blast though.
I’m a budding game designer, and I’ve been contemplating exactly the space this article covers. I both have interest in making the projects I’m working on more accessible; and as a writer, find myself contemplating my relationship to the emotional realities of gameplay, and very much looking for ways to shift player focus and types of attention.
This is a great overview of your experience, and it’s already helpful in how I’m thinking about this. Heck, at the very least, it’s ammunition for my wild claims about how alien the gaming experience really is to those not acclimated!
Thanks for sharing, and I look forward tor reading more.
Speaking of–this may be tumblr inexperience, but I’m not able to find you under Stranger Here Myself. Tumblr seems to have a lot of strangers. Can you provide a direct link so I can check this out as it expands?
The Tumblr inexpertise is mine, I assure you. Let me pursue whatever mistakes I’ve made and I’ll alert you/link you when they’re fixed. Thanks very much for your interest. The toughest thing about this whole journey is combating the expectation that electronic games are naturally and inherently fun, rather than a learned pleasure (that few know how to teach). Thanks for making some wild claims on the behalf of us outsiders.
Despite playing Pong aged 17, when my dad brought it home and announced that this was the future of entertainment, and despite playing Space Invaders at university, I only really got into gaming when I became a mother of two sons. Our very first game, when my eldest was five, was called Spooky Castle, and it took us a year to figure it out. I enjoyed playing Mario Kart and other platformer games with my boys. However, I’d say I only became a gamer when I discovered Final Fantasy VII, after watching Advent Children with my sons, as a result of which I developed a great love of pretty much all Square Enix games, especially the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series. Learning to play was difficult; it took me an entire summer to complete Crisis Core on my PSP (that handheld device is a truly elegant piece design) because I didn’t just have to learn the rules for this particular game, and I didn’t just have to learn the controls for my PSP — I had to learn the basic fundamentals underpinning all RPGs. It’s like learning a new language. Learning a new language is much easier if you already know what nouns, tenses, gerunds, prepositions, subjects and predicates are.
I’ve become involved in some fandom communities online, where everyone has been very welcoming, even though I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m old enough to be their mother. As a teacher, I’m particularly fascinated by the possibilities of using games as teaching tools (although I have yet to come across a really good teaching game for secondary school students). I’m currently investigating the potential of paradox games as a teaching tool.
I appreciate this account–especially from a fellow teacher–and the analogy to learning a language has long struck me; at this point I have a very thick accent. My students have contributed to my discoveries, and have been so awed at the idea of teaching their teacher, or simply sharing with their teacher, something they love so much and see as so far removed from our usual educational conversation–like a lot of the gaming community, they have been generosity itself. Thanks for your story!
That’s very true, and has also been my experience. The boys in particular love the fact that I can talk to them about something thing they love, and that I value it myself. Probably the effect would be the same if I could talk to them about hockey, but sports generally tend to be valued by adults, while video games are denigrated.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turns out that video games are good for staving off Alzheimers.
Something I have always envied less experienced gamers for is their lack of knowledge of the overused video game blueprint, something similar to movies where you’ve watched so many of them you’ll always know where the story is going, I’m like this but with video games.
One of my most favorite games OF ALL TIME is Journey, a game so out of touch with its fellow video games that I actually felt like I was in a real adventure/journey. I wasn’t so familiar with what I was doing and how I was controlling the game that I actually felt small, lost and unimportant in the world the game put me in.
I play so many games that I long for basically ANYTHING that hasn’t been done before, I’ll name some weird small stuff now that no games do but I wish they would just to mix things up a bit:
Zoom in: I want games to actually focus more on the detail and the character by zooming in on them to make it feel more like a movie. Sometimes I feel like they could just swap their characters for a single dot on the screen;
Lessen the player’s importance: You don’t always have to be the protagonist you know, this is what I freaking adore about Journey *SPOILER ALERT*, you aren’t special, you might think that as you’re this small unimportant thing that conquers things that no other has… but the thing is, that’s not true, as a matter of fact everyone has and everything can! It’s not about the fact that you’re doing something remarkable, it’s about the journey.
Another thing I love is that I can’t really spoil journey for you as its literal name explains it to you “it’s not about the story, it’s about the journey”.
This is what almost all games have become. You’re like this president who has no idea what the hell he’s doing having people spoon feed you whilst waiting on your next command.